While the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board talks about breaking up racial and economic isolation, Teach For America Charlotte is holding a forum on making “hypersegregated” schools successful.
On Dec. 15, two national speakers will discuss ways they’ve seen schools thrive without significant numbers of white or middle-class students. The free forum is part of its “New Reality Speaker Series,” focusing on poverty and academic success in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. The first, on CMS history, was held in October.
This month’s panelists are David Johns, executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, and Terrell Hill, an administrator with Windsor Public Schools in Connecticut.
CMS currently has 76 schools where poverty is so high that everyone automatically gets free lunch and breakfast. Almost 87 percent of those students are black and Hispanic, while only 6 percent are white.
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The district is about to launch a new magnet lottery system that uses socioeconomic status to reduce concentrations of disadvantage that have created numerous high-poverty, low-scoring schools. Those changes will take effect in 2017-18. A second phase of the CMS student assignment review, focused on neighborhood schools, is gearing up now, with preliminary proposals expected in January. Those changes would happen in 2018-19 or later.
But CMS is also working to improve performance in its high-poverty schools, through programs such as the public-private Project LIFT and the district’s Beacon Initiative. The district is also working on better ways to gauge teacher quality and ensure that high-poverty schools get the rigorous instruction and skilled instructors those students need.
The Teach For America panel, held in honor of longtime CMS educator Leroy “Pop” Miller, is from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Dec. 15 at UNC Center City, 320 E. Ninth St. To register: newreality2.eventbrite.com